Prince William and the Emperor’s New Clones

Wednesday 09/01/08 

Story:  Prince William and the Emperor’s New Clones 

Sometimes you have to thank the BBC. Why? Well our office once again had to come up with a World Report story to accompany a live report from London tomorrow night. The New Year had slowed everything down and we’d been struggling to find some ‘neta‘ (material) to use. Well last week the BBC broadcast one of those soft news stories at the end of the 1300 news and my producer and I saw it and immediately realised a possible piece for our slot. 

We had a great lead into the piece because Prince William had just begun 4 months of intensive flight training at Cranwell and from that fact we could go on to introduce our subject for this report. 

A Flight Lieutenant at RAF Cranwell is, in his spare time, also a film director/producer for Backyard Productions, which is basically what it’s title says it is. A group of video/film fans who as a hobby make what I guess would be called ‘fan films’. These are high quality, non-profit, passion backed projects with titles like ‘Doom Raiders’ and ‘The Emperors New Clones’. 

We met up with Flight Lieutenant Darren Scales at RAF Cranwell’s guard station where we had to sign in and be escorted to enter the base. He first took us to film the old historical looking part of the college. It looked good against the brilliant blue sky but it was also bitterly cold and shots of flying aircraft where hard to come by. We then visited his office, where I filmed some pan up shots of him walking smartly in uniform and then him entering the building. Once in his office there was enough mixture of RAF related items (photos, model planes etc) and Star Wars items (light sabre, Darth Vader phone and a Darth ‘tater’, that’s a Darth Vader potato head for the ignorant out there, to enable me to set the scene and explain the cross over from Darren’s day job to his movie making pastime. He had even created his own unique R2D2 mix telephone ringtone, which amused but could ultimately drive one crazy. 

Next we went to RAF Waddington, which had provided the venue for most of the sets for his Clones film. This base had a large function room above its restaurant and when it was not in use the RAF had allowed Darren to use it to construct sets in and film scenes from his film. All the crew were fellow enthusiasts and he’d had about 180 people involved in some way or another. Darren showed us where a cleaning woman had walked onto their set a moment before they were due to set off an explosion with flames and smoke, luckily he managed to yell cut sparing her and allowing the proper disposal of the trash she was carrying. This event was captured on film but to be honest his explanation of it was far superior and more entertaining than the cinematic cut.  

From here we went to Darren’s house, met his wife, 8 year old son and barking dog. Naturally the son’s name is Luke and the dog’s name is Chewy, but Darren assured me that their names had nothing to do with Star Wars.

He had his own editing set up, which probably surpassed our news gathering office’s specs and his own ‘movie room’, which was probably on a par with many small cinemas. I filmed Darren and his son getting together the props and pieces of the set from the garden shed and attic. They then took us through how bits and pieces where made from cardboard, plastic water pistols and even surgical gloves painted with nail varnish for Yoda’s feet. 

On the drive up to Lincolnshire this morning our correspondent had wandered how it was that someone in such a position, for example in the military, was able to get the support of his employers, in this case the RAF, and even use their facilities for his project, RAF Waddington’s function room. Well during the sit down interview with Darren the most interesting thing that came out of it was the fact that, as Darren put it “a good thing about the RAF is it embraces what we do in our spare time” and he went on to explain that there was a definite cross over between the management, discipline and organisational skills needed in both his roles. He also explained that the RAF where very happy for him to use the facilities on the base but only because they were not being used at the time. My correspondent could not image such a thing in Japan, in fact he thought that the opposite might well be the case and such a passion for a particular pastime may well be frowned upon.  

We finished up by filming Darren, his family and a friend sitting down and enthusiastically watching their own creation in his ‘movie room’ thn once again headed for the A1 and home. 

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